Landmark payment-by-results project to launch for young offenders

By Neil Puffett

| 23 April 2015

Payment-by-results will be used as part of a major five-year programme to improve resettlement support for young people leaving custody, it has been confirmed.

Reoffending rates for young people leaving custody are currently around 68 per cent. Picture: Peter Crane

Under the initiative 16- to 18-year-olds leaving custody in four young offender institutions - Feltham and Cookham Wood in London, Werrington in the West Midlands, and Wetherby in the North West - will be assigned a youth resettlement support worker to help them deal with issues they face.

The Youth Justice Board, which has developed the project alongside the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), has said that resettlement support workers will start work with the young person a month before their release.

“The youth resettlement support workers must work collaboratively with the local authority and wider partners to ensure children’s services and wider mainstream services provide on-going support,” a statement in a YJB bulletin said.

The project is being funded through the European Social Fund.

Concerns have previously been raised about the introduction of payment-by-results to the youth justice system.

The Association of Youth Offending Team Managers (AYM), says they can create so-called "perverse incentives" and encourage services to work with those who are easiest to help, rather than the most troubled.

Youth Justice Board chief executive Lin Hinnigan has previously identified reducing reoffending rates as the organisation’s number one priority.

Although two of the three headline measures for youth justice – numbers of first-time entrants, and numbers of young people in custody – have fallen significantly in recent years, the other, reoffending rates, has proved more stubborn.

Annual youth justice statistics, published in January, show that for the 12 months ending March 2013, the reoffending rate for under-18s leaving custody was 67.9 per cent. This compares with a rate of 74.8 in 2002.

And there has been criticism of current resettlement provision.

Only last month inspectors criticised poor-quality support for young offenders being released from custody.

A joint inspection by HM Inspectorate of Probation, the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted into resettlement services found too many young offenders struggle to access health services, while support aimed at preventing reoffending was also found to be weak.

The resettlement support worker project will launch in July.

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